On Tuesday we got to tour the Vatican!! It was amazing, but soooo crowded!!! We got to see the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica. I think my favorite part of the Vatican though was the Early Christian Art exhibit! I loved seeing the triptychs and the Transfiguration of Christ by Raphael. All of it was amazing and I was starstruck all day!
Wednesday one of my dreams came true when I got to see Pope Francis from less than 5 feet away!! On Wednesdays in Rome he gives a papal audience that is open to the public in St. Peter’s square. It was pouring rain, but a large group of us woke up early and trekked to the square anyway. Before the pope comes out they give announcements over an intercom in the square, and acknowledge groups that are present in the audience – mostly congregations and wards that have traveled from all over to see the pope. We were so surprised when BYU students and faculty were given a special shoutout!! it was so cool!! A few minutes later we gathered around this little path where the pope drives on the pope-mobile. He drove around surrounded by his security detail and drove right in front of us!! It was so cool seeing him in person, stopping to kiss every baby that was held up to him. It was absolutely amazing.
After Orvieto, we moved on to Florence- which is my new favorite city in Italy! Florence is beautiful. Throughout our 3 days there were able to visit multiple museums and churches including the Uffizi! We were able to see Michelangelo’s David and it was stunning!! It’s massive and beautiful, while remaining unbelievably lifelike. We got to see Donatello’s David as well, contrasting it to Michelangelo’s. We visited the famous Duomo, explored the baptistry and climbed the tower! I visited the leather market on multiple occasions(which was kinda the worst the people selling are so aggressive) and became somewhat decent at bargaining! I bought a lot of little things to take back to friends and family at home, as well as leather sandals and a cute leather backpack for myself. I ate some of the best pizza and gelato of my life while in Florence! The shops were right next to each other with a gorgeous view of the river across the street, where we ate our pizza and gelato at sunset – 3 nights in a row it was so good!